Artist Interview: Dave White.
Dave White is a contemporary artist whose new collection, 'Albion' is soon to be hosted at Iris Studios. Presenting an eclectic mix of endangered and native British species, White’s aim is to challenge the viewer to re-connect with our natural world.
Albion will explore the heritage and iconography of native species to Britain in White’s dynamic signature expressive style. The show will feature a large scale installation of oil paintings, works on paper, a collectors’ box set, and limited edition silkscreen prints.
We had a quick chat with the talented artist ahead of the exhibition's unveiling to grasp the importance of the work and how we can expect it to challenge us...
Why do you think it is important for us to pay significant attention to our native species’ at this point in time?
We are really on the cusp of disaster, with a great number of species under threat from years of pesticide use, loss of their natural habitats and disasters such as flooding have been catastrophic on the whole eco system. I was totally blown away to hear that in less than 30 years a good number of the UK’s species will become extinct. We always think of faraway places and very specific animals that are endangered, not wildlife on our home soil.
Have you always been an admirer of nature? Did this in any way influence a themed focus?
I have always been fascinated with wildlife and the whole series developed organically over the past 5 years. My last exhibition was formed solely of great white sharks and although beautiful and fragile, they are extremely powerful and menacing. Each series has a very different set of challenges unique to each to explore and get right. I think there is a definitive theme in my recent works and have really enjoyed depicting them.
Having incorporated a mixture of artistic formats into the exhibition, do you feel that it should be in an artist’s nature to generally look to explore such different methods?
I think it is up to the artist to select and choose the format that is right for them and their intentions. The Albion show is composed of oil on linen paintings and watercolour works on paper, alongside limited edition prints and a very special Series 1 E-type Jaguar, which I painted on especially for the show. It has a very symbolic presence, it is something beautiful from the past being presented again after being fully restored, which fits in perfectly with the whole ethos of the Albion show, to see the beauty and rarity and life of things we take for granted and hopefully not too late.
One of the key aims of this exhibition is to challenge the viewer to re-connect with our natural world – how do you feel you have achieved this with your work?
That is obviously for the viewer to decide, if I have achieved my intent. I wanted to take wildlife that we totally take for granted and depict them much larger than life. To capture their unique character through the application of the media I use, the rich surfaces that oil paint offers, or the fluid abstraction that watercolour realises. The beauty of camouflage, plumage and the various patterns and textures are totally unique to each species, which I find fascinating to explore. Representing these things triggers an instant recognition from the spectator and from afar, the works offer a realism which turns almost to abstraction upon closer inspection. I just want people to re-engage and once again become fascinated with the beauty that surrounds us and not take it for granted.
The work on show is ‘interpreting emotive issues’, how much did the subject of wildlife play an emotive influence in planning before you picked up your brush?
It is very clear to me that the steady decline of species is ever more apparent, I really wanted to depict not only the rare endangered wildlife but things that you totally take for granted and celebrate them. In our ever increasingly busy lives it is so easy to forget that we share the same environment with these beautiful creatures. Two years ago I relocated to Dorset which has had a massive influence on this series. I would often see wildlife featured in the show and would totally stop whatever I was doing, transfixed on them. I wanted that to come through, whether it is the rhythm of a running hare or nervous presence of a small bird, it all sparked something and I had to make these works.
Would you agree that your style of art enables each animal to appear as raw as possible as opposed to portraying softer, more innocent creatures?
I would say that my style is expressive and spontaneous which offers an almost animated quality and life to the works. However, there is a subtlety and beauty which has to be captured, if the works become too expressive they lose the fragility or too tight they become too twee and realistic, it is like walking a tightrope and always has been for me, an almost Abstract Realism if that makes sense. Depicting creatures that are tiny and bringing them to life in a larger scale has been a really interesting challenge and each has a unique quality in their presence, which I really focussed on.
Does the ‘blank canvas’ that is the Loughran Gallery enable you to solely focus on the content on each page, or did you bare the gallery space in mind whilst curating the work?
Loughran Gallery have a really fresh and interesting approach to exhibiting, rather than a static space that rotates shows, they scout locations that perfectly fit the exhibitors works and intent. From the show's inception both myself and Juliette Loughran, the owner, would meet and visit spaces. When we saw Iris Studios we knew exactly that it was perfect. Setting these almost timeless creatures in a very modern geometric space offered a really interesting juxtaposition which I hope the viewers enjoy!
Iris Studios, London, SW10 9AE.